Police have arrested a man in connection with modern day slavery in Northumberland.
The arrest follows an on-going investigation by the Blyth Neighbourhood Policing Team into reports of people working without payment and living in squalor in private accommodation in Blyth.
On Tuesday, March 15, a 44-year-old man was arrested for assault and modern day slavery. He has been released on bail pending further inquiries. Modern day slavery includes a person being exploited through domestic servitude, sex trafficking and forced labour.
The activity forms part of Operation Merlin - an initiative ran by the Blyth Neighbourhood Policing Team to protect the most vulnerable in the community and work with partners to provide help for residents who need it the most.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: "We will not tolerate the enslaving of anyone. Everyone has the right, and is entitled to be free. Here in Northumbria we are fully committed to stamping out all forms of modern day slavery and human trafficking, and this arrest proves that we will take swift and direct action where any such offences are suspected to be taking place.
"It's important people realise that these offences can happen on our doorstep, right here in the North East, and we need to ensure people caught up in these terrible situations have access to the help and safety they need.
"I urge anyone with any concerns to seek help – our officers will offer full support and bring offenders to justice."
Chief Inspector, Nicola Musgrove, said: "Safeguarding vulnerable children and adults is a key priority for us and we are committed to minimising harm in communities.
"Modern day slavery is a hidden crime and can happen anywhere, in all sections of the community and we investigate reports of this nature thoroughly.
"This arrest is a direct result of community intelligence and we urge people to look out for potential victims and if you are concerned or have any suspicions to contact police straight away.
"Our inquiries are ongoing and I would urge people to be vigilant and if something doesn't look or feel right I would ask them to contact us."
Anyone who may have concerns is asked to contact police on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.